I was wrong.
One year ago I left the internet. I thought it was making me unproductive. I thought it lacked meaning. I thought it was “corrupting my soul.”
It’s a been a year now since I “surfed the web” or “checked my email” or “liked” anything with a figurative rather than literal thumbs up. I’ve managed to stay disconnected, just like I planned. I’m internet free.
And now I’m supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more “real,” now. More perfect.
But instead it’s 8PM and I just woke up. I slept all day, woke with eight voicemails on my phone from friends and coworkers. I went to my coffee shop to consume dinner, the Knicks game, my two newspapers, and a copy of The New Yorker. And now I’m watching Toy Story while I glance occasionally at the blinking cursor in this text document, willing it to write itself, willing it to generate the epiphanies my life has failed to produce.
I didn’t want to meet this Paul at the tail end of my yearlong journey.
Honestly, there are times when unplugging from everything sounds like a dream. But then I realize how invaluable it has become for everything I’ve been doing for a living for years. Comedians were early adopters to the online life. It was a way to promote ourselves without hiring a publicist and email was an early favorite as a way to help us stay connected with friends and family while being on the road so much. Five of us were doing a tour for the US troops in the South Pacific a few years ago and found ourselves without Internet or reliable phone service for days and it was quite refreshing at first (this was exceptionally weird because we were surrounded by some serious military technology). We all got a little itchy after a time, however.
The story this guy tells of his experiment is worth a read whether you’re convinced you never want to be disconnected or if you are looking for inspiration to check out for a while. I’m kind of in the mood to take a brief Internet vacation.
And then blog about it.